Friday, September 30, 2011

Here We Go Again, Rob...

Well, here we go again. Let’s see what happens in the blogosphere regarding this recent bit of news.

If you haven’t heard, Rob Bell is leaving his church. Moreover, it now appears that we know, at least in part, the impetus for Rob’s departure.

Now, I’m not going to attempt to decipher Bell’s personal intentions. I don’t know the man; in fact, I’ve never even met the man. And, to be sure, we should remember the hailstorm that came when bloggers began attempting to decipher his recent bestseller, Love Wins, a bit too early (which, in retrospect, was more often than not a critique of his public promotional video, which I am convinced, in the end, was appropriate). Still, it is with a bit of trepidation that I try to offer a few thoughts regarding the public news of Bell’s departure.

What concerns me most is what appears to be a relinquishing of any kind of Christ-exalting, gospel-centered, accountability-infused pastoral ministry.

Let me explain.

First, in regards to relinquishing a Christ-exalting gospel-centeredness, all that has been offered regarding the spirituality of Stronger is that it will include “spiritual overtones”. What does that even mean?! (I suppose that is on par for Bell, though, as he leaves us with more questions than answers.) Instead of providing a robust, Christ-centered gospel, we are left with vague and opaque “spiritual overtones”. I have no doubt that Bell wishes to share “the message of God’s love with a broader audience”; however, if Christ is not intrinsically present, then there is no salvific value to any of it. If we relinquish the gospel, it is because we have relinquished Jesus Christ, for he is the gospel. I’ve written previously about what I think the message of the gospel is, so I will leave you with that.

Second, Bell (along with others) has already been criticized for leaving his ministry to “pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities”. Now, if you are being called by God to pursue something else, you better do it. Moreover, we ought to pause when questioning someone’s calling, for only God and the individual know their true calling (in these situations I often remember the statement made by my Bibliology/Prolegomena professor regarding claimed spiritual experiences; he said, “You cannot tell someone that they did not experience what they claimed to have experienced, for only God and that person truly know what, or if, they have experienced). And yet, my concern, to echo Stetzer and Warren, is the potential for ego-feed and/or lack of pastoral accountability in completing future projects. My hope and prayer is that Bell will come under a good church to keep him accountable as he pursues these future strategic opportunities.


  1. I think it was already said by others more qualified than myself...but Ill say it again...Good bye Rob Bell, don't think that I'll miss ya but I hope you find what your looking for. ;)

  2. I'm pretty excited by what Rob has in store and being a big fan of his work and of Lost I can't wait to see what this collaboration will look like.

    It is true that there is danger of his ego being fed. But then again that is true for Pastors also. None of us know Rob personally and so don't know what kind of accountability he has planned or indeed already has in place.

    There seems to be a lot of speculation around Rob Bell...again. I am just curious why so many people who aren't fans feel the need to have an opinion on him all the time. There seems to be a lot of people who don't like him, who are very concerned for him

    But I am sure once the stuff he is working on comes to light and is completed we will go through this all again.

  3. Paul,

    From a creative standpoint, I am also interested to see what becomes of his production career.

    And, as stated above, I agree with you that without any personal relationship with Rob, I cannot comment on the accountability he will receive (outside of stating that I hope he does look to come under a good church).

    I think the speculation swirling around Rob, at least for me, is due to his lay-level popularity, along with my personal disagreement with some of his theology. As stated in previous posts, my main concern is what I believe to be a twisting of the gospel, and, therefore, it leaves me speculating any move he makes.

    And, yes, once/if his television show ever hits the airwaves, I'm sure we will be going through this all over again.

    Good to hear from you!